Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Herbs, Teas, & More Herbs

I absolutely had to do this post. In a world that is ever so changing, people are turning more and more to an alternative way of looking at our surroundings. We've heard it all, seen it all. We are pro-organic, against MSG, hate preservatives, pro-low sodium, we take supplements, avoid products with hormones, no food dyes, and the list goes on and on. Many of us have actually attempted to avoid doctor visits, unless necessary, in order to build up our immune systems. Remember mrsa? Yup, it's still there. And we stock our bodies up on unnecessary antibiotics, because, "doc.....I really need to get over this cold...fast," a little bit of bug can linger, get stronger, and become resistant to antibiotics when we may really need them.... Hence, 'mrsa'. Anyway, this post is not about that bad bug, or any other kind, for the matter. It is actually about an alternative way to treat our minor illnesses or  minor infections. (Pay attention to the word 'minor'.) Like the list above, there are so many things we have to take into consideration now-a-days, that our parents, 20-30 years ago, did not have to. The world is changing, people are changing and some days, I like to think it's for the best. Whether it is due to my Eastern European roots, I love herbs and collecting them. Overall, I'm just a suburban girl who's trying to pass along good news. So.....the point of this? It is to give you a sneak peak into my cupboard of herbs that I feel are worth harvesting year after year.

I am going to tell you all a little bit of important information on these six amazing and garden worthy herbs. Starting in the upper left corner, these saucers will be 1-6 clock wise.
1. Stinging Nettle - This guy is avoided by so many and even considered bad to those who are unaware of its medicinal properties. Because it 'stings' and causes a short period of rash, many people regard it as unuseful. But......it is so good for soo many reasons. It kills the reproduction of bacteria and viruses, it promotes ulcer healing, and helps eliminate allergies. For these reasons, colds and respiratory infections can be helped. But too much can be a bad thing. It can cause your stool to darken with overuse and may increase blood pressure with some. Another interesting thing is that in the old country, it is believed by elderly, that if you pick this 'stinging' plant with your hands, it can help rheumatoid arthritis. Now, try to sit on that thought:) There have been no medical links to the next statement, but through 'word', people are saying he helps with fighting cancer. I really, really, really want to believe this. Wouldn't that be wonderful?
Number 2. Chamomile - This beautiful and fragrant plant is pretty common. It is so much more pleasurable to pick these flowers and dry them yourself rather than purchase them in a cardboard box. Chamomile is known in the herb world as having healing properties for heartburn, stomach aches, and topically, for skin issues. A chamomile rinse helps with psoriasis and eczema. Mix this mighty flower with mint to make a sedative tea or great sleep aid.  Interesting thing, the white petals are useless. It's the yellow, pollen filled center that counts. Anyone ever try chamomile honey? I bet it's great!
3. Mint - Wow, wow, and more wows! Is there anything it's not good for is the question? Here it goes: IBS, cramps, motion sickness, sleep aid, anxiety, respiratory infections with wheezing, coughing, fungal infections, and can even be mixed with oil for an amazing chest rub. (And it spreads like wild in the garden!)
 4. Common Yarrow - (Don't forget this is clockwise so we're under the mint.) This beautiful flower will grow in any soil and may even take over your flower garden. Use this as a topical for wounds, cuts, and minor abrasions. It promotes healing and fights infections. It also promotes sweating by creating increased blood circulation. For this reason, we say it is good for colds. For the flu or common cold, it is recommended to be mix with mint as a tea.
5.  Linden Tree - Not only is this tree beautiful, but it has such great qualities. The linden tree buds are great for headaches, migraines, increasing bile production, and reduces blood pressure. Create an essential oil and you can treat blemishes!
6.  St. John's Wort - Yup....I know you got this one. It is known as the OTC herb that treats depression and anxiety. But....it's also good for helping diminish signs and symptoms of Parkinson's, treating gram negative bacteria, and promotes healthy elimination of toxins by cleaning our kidneys and liver. If you already take prescription anti-depressants, you should NOT be drinking this tea. My family has used it as an essential oil in treating minor skin infection and burns. Simply take the flower buds into a clear jar and pour in olive oil. Let it sit on a window sill IN direct sunlight for about 3 weeks. Your oil should turn a beautiful clear pinkish rose color. I love it!
Now, no herbs should be taken in place of medications or without a doctors approval. And.....your doctor should ALWAYS be aware of what herbs you do take. Herbs are medications in natural form. I posted this not to stop someone from going to the MD, but to remind them to use all that's available prior to getting really sick. So...next time your having a hard time falling asleep and your really stressed....you may not need Ambien. Start off first with cup of chamomile tea. And.....most importantly these herbs are used in this home, as teas or essential oils. That means 1 teaspoon or less of herb per 1 large cup of boiled water. We do not use them daily as that would result in ineffectiveness of the product at hand. We use it as needed. I feel a cold coming on and am starting to cough.....time to make some tea. Last but not least I want to send my mom & dad a big thanks in this post. It is because of them that I have the love I do for gardening and herbs. For all that they have taught me and for all that they continue to inspire. I truly love them.
Now.....time for me to work on going organic with shampoo......or should I say, baking soda and water. This one might be hard:) Hope you enjoyed!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Go Vintage!

Hope you enjoy my new header pic as much as I do.  I took that photo in our craft room under a window where my big, plastic craft table fits.  Many of my photos have been taken right there due to the awesome natural light. Beautiful fabrics were all about the table and then.....hearts, they just had to fit in somewhere.  I do that sometimes.....leave fabric laying around and debate what to do with it. There are so many ideas, but not enough fabric so I have to choose wisely or it will end in regret. There are 3 things I must do this year and hopefully sometime soon. Number 1, make a really cute pair of hot pants with quilting fabric so I can look fashionable in the garden and obtain a suntan on my cheesy white legs when the weather's warm. I love the beautiful, bright materials I've been coming across and...it must have an elastic waist and lace trim;) Number 2, pull out those vintage patterns I've collected and start putting them to use. I'd like to create a beautiful knee length summer dress or fitted, button down tee.  Number 3, wear red lipstick, regardless of how huge it makes my teeth look...lol! These are a few of my favorite patterns I've collected:



I love finding these vintage patterns on ebay. Before you make your purchase for a great pattern, here are a few things I wish I knew prior to buying. First, check out your local fabric/pattern store. There are a couple vintage patterns still printed to this day. (And if there's a 'special', you might even get it for a fraction of the cost.) Next, know your measurements. Sizes in the 50's and 60's are not the same as today, keeping in mind that bust size is the most important. Last, read the description carefully. Are the patterns already cut? Are all pieces present? On ebay, you'll find alot of 'estate sale' finds. If the seller doesn't have an idea if all the pieces are present, I wouldn't recommend the purchase. But...you can find some great deals. I want to end this post with a recommendation of a book I'm excited about getting. It has raving reviews and comes complete with a few great patterns. It is The Colette Sewing Handbook. I just ordered mine and ya, I know I'm a little behind, but still so excited to join in all the fun I've been hearing about it. From beginners to professionals, I hear this is a great book to use as a foundation. Can't wait! Happy Trails:)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Market Bag

So....don't you just hate it when your projects don't turn out quite the way you had pictured? I had a vision in mind. An upscale version of the market bag, with subtle earth tones, 3 pockets,  deep, and sturdy, washable - just not crooked!  This chic and hip market bag was made, double lined, double stitched and serged completely throughout for sturdiness. I would love if you all looked at this and said - "no, it's great!" But I could not bare to sell something on the etsy store that I know I couldn't stand completely behind. Soooo.....my sister is going to be sporting the new "lucy loves me market bag" until I make more. Forget your purse at home. With this market bag, you can carry a water bottle, your keys, and a wallet - deep enough that none of the items will fall out. Hope you enjoy and hope this one sparks new ideas for those crafty do-it yourselfers who are looking for a new spring project.

And yes...those are 2012 spring seed catalogs! In which I am extremely excited about:)
I feel like a kid when I check the mail and see a gardening catalog in the box. It's so exciting, thinking what can I try this year that'll be different and garden plans - gotta love those garden plans. Some of my favorite catalogs are Cooks Garden, John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds, Jung Seeds, and Totally Tomatoes.
A really good thing to remember when ordering from catalogs - look at the location of the headquarters. Meaning if your in zone 5, like me, and want a plant from a location in zone 8, chances are it won't survive even if it's a perennial and you got the best soil. Truth be told, the air is just different regarding humidity and moisture. Some of my best perennials came from those really cheap gardening catalogs we all get in the spring. Take for instance my 6 hydrangeas for 7.99 years ago. Those little things came from an Illinois garden center and have grown into the most beautiful bushes infront of our home. Don't believe when people say it won't grow because the price is cheap. If you follow directions and plant immediately after arrival - it'll grow, I'm sure of it.  And with seeds, unsprayed vs. sprayed is the question. More likely to survive and grow = sprayed. But who wants the pesticides - not me! And as a matter of fact, a friend of mine bought all organic unsprayed seeds this past year. She started everything from scratch and ended up having the most beautiful amazing garden. All the seeds took.
This really could've been a post about garden catalogs instead of a market bag. But..the two do go hand in hand:) Happy Trails!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Every holiday season is jam packed with new things. For the last month, I've embarked on new emotional journeys involving, Christmas on the 25th, (or a reminder of how big your kids are getting when you watch them open up their presents),  New Year's, (or a reminder of how fast the year flew by & resolutions), my daughter's 5th birthday, (where did 5 years already go?),  Orthodox Christmas, (don't forget any traditions), and unfortunately a change in jobs, which added unnecessary stress at times.  Did I mention, that during Christmas shopping, I came home one day to find my husband in disarray with our little one that decided...."I really want short hair.....so I'll cut it myself." With all these things, a mom tries to maintain balance, keep things orderly, organized, tasty, happy, calm, and of course, "smile mom".... And the truth behind it, is that I'm only worried I'll forget to do something, on my list of "to-do's", that half the time isn't even a list, but a mental picture I'm hoping I won't forget. So...somewhere inbetween the birthday and Orthodox Christmas, I found solitude in a small room, packed with fabric, paper, books, and paint. I made this skirt/shirt - I just had to share!

Of course, I also had to share my homemade bread from the festivities on January 6th and 7th.
Every year I try to decorate my bread, like the previous generations did in my husbands family.
I'm happy with the way it came out, but there's always room for improvement:)

My Girls

My little one was so happy after her haircut. We, of course, had to go to a
salon to get it "fixed".  The funny thing, after all is said and done, my 7 year old says, "I want my haircut too!"
And the little one replies, "just cut it yourself, then they'll have to take you to the
salon." Little stinker!

It's a new year, which means, on to new beginnings, new journeys, and new crafts, new projects, new ideas, new recipes:)  Yahoo! Plus...the kids are getting bigger, which means extra special help and extra special ideas:)